The Marble Arch Mound

I normally have a certain admiration for pointless follies and architectural foolishness. However, this story features something far less loveable. Oxford Street has for a long time attracted a rougher clientele than Regent Street or Bond Street. As its fortunes declined into discount stores new ways were sought, most of them misguided, to bring back foot […]

Writing: The State Of Play

A quick health check on the average writer reveals that the patient is not doing so well. The average median income from writing for those who spend more than half their working life on books is around £10,000 p.a. It gets worse; Between 2006 and 2018 the average income for authors fell by 42%, according […]

A Garden Of One’s Own

It’s the only large Central London park I’ve never been inside, and it’s just two miles from our home.  To be sure, there are other spots missing off the Fowler Patented Scrutinizing Map of London but this is the largest unknown territory. Buckingham Palace Garden, 39 lush acres lying behind high spiked walls, magically screens […]

Wartime Laughs and Horrors

Yesterday I swung from the hospital, where I was getting my usual dose of radioactivity for another scan, through a rainstorm to the cult paperback pulp fair, which has moved homes from Bloomsbury to Great Portland Street. Except that hardly anyone was there, the tables were empty, the punters absent. No dealers or buyers, thanks […]

Launched This Week: The Final Bryant & May Novel

Closure is so satisfying Well, the old boys began at death’s door and somehow remained there for twenty books, but regular readers know why this has happened. The side effects of my failed chemo, combined with a truly bizarre sequence of global events, have conspired to imprison me at home and push my stress levels […]

This Topic Is Dangerous

If you can shut out the world you can keep your prejudices intact. Thinking about my memoir ‘Paperboy’ there was a topic I meant to cover and did not include. It relates to the use of language and explains why any book or film depicting the past will always be wrong. It goes without saying […]

Rereading: It’s Like Buying Pre-Owned Fashion

Nobody in my family ever dies. My mother made it past 90 with a cheery smile on her enormous false teeth. My Uncle John is a fit, happy, tanned and laughing marvel at 91 (he sent a text to his son the other day. ‘Have you got my extension ladder?’) My feisty non-nonsense Auntie Doreen […]

Slap Them, They’re French

    Last year an American academic accused me (very politely) of being racist. As someone forged in the multi-cultural stewpot of Central London you can imagine how this went down with me. But – sigh of relief – it turned out that she was talking about Arthur Bryant’s attitude to the French, so that’s […]

The Mad Miss Bacon

The idea that William Shakespeare did not write his own plays was not a new one by the time Delia Bacon seized upon it. The first doubt had been cast in 1771 when one Herbert Laurence issued a book accusing the Bard of plagiarism and deer-stealing. This was roughly a century and a half after […]

London Diary: None Of Us Are Going Quietly

Well, it’s been a pretty downbeat month, especially when I was informed a couple of weeks ago that my chemo didn’t take at all. Oddly the one part of the poisoning process that seemed to work perfectly well was the development of nasty side-effects, which have crippled me. The sole remaining option is a possible […]